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Everything you need to know about the 100th Royal Welsh Show

The first Royal Welsh was held at Aberystwyth in 1904 and little did that small group of farming stalwarts realise back then just what they were launching.

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Everything you need to know about the 100th Royal Welsh Show

Subsequent stagings took place across Wales until 57 years later and 37 different locations, alternating between north and south Wales, saw the show settling permanently at Llanelwedd.

 

That put an end to what had been a trail of open fields, muddy tracks and a collection of prefabricated huts and tents.

 

Since putting down those roots in 1963, the 71-hectare (176-acre) showground has been transformed by way of a multi-million-pound investment into the infrastructure, permanent roads and a range of multi-functional buildings.

 

The move to mid-Wales and its geographical location was not, however, popular with everyone and initially failed to win the acceptance of many Welsh farmers, particularly those in the north, as well as traders.

 

While figures for the show’s earlier years are hard to come by, the attendance at the first Llanelwedd show was 42,429 and, while gates of 80,000-plus were needed to provide a satisfactory financial result for the society, they fell well below that level, averaging only 62,283 over the first seven shows.


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Attendance

 

Main livestock entries at the time were centred on the Welsh Blacks and Herefords, while among the sheep it was the Welsh Mountain and other native hill breeds which dominated the stock lines.

 

It was not until the 1973 show that the society showed a profit, with an attendance approaching the magical 80,000 mark and then steadily rising to 141,327 at the 1979 event.

 

Livestock numbers also moved up markedly from the 1972 show, with the 2,475 entries reaching 3,265 at the 1979 show, with an ever-increasing range of breeds – both British and for the first time continentals.

 

Trade stand numbers also grew rapidly, rising from 325 in 1972 to 601 in 1979, bringing in muchneeded revenue.

 

By moving to a four-day show in 1981 it was hoped to benefit exhibitors and public alike, with judging being less rushed and crowds better dispersed.

 

But that was not to be, with the 200,000 attendance barrier being broken in 1989 and every year since.

 

A livestock entry in excess of 6,000 rendered the show as one of the foremost livestock fixtures in Europe.

 

The 1990s saw further expansion in stock numbers to more than 7,000 and an average attendance figure between 1990 and 1999 standing at an impressive 218,695.

 

Since then, the show has regularly attracted about 250,000 visitors, 8,000 entries and the need to park about 22,000 cars a day, while the number of trade stands passed the 1,000 mark for the first time in 1996. There remains an everexpanding waiting list today.

 

One factor which has remained constant throughout is that the Royal Welsh is first and foremost an agricultural show.

Classes

 

Alongside 22 cattle and 10 pig breeds, the show boasts one of the largest sheep parades to be seen in the world, with classes for more than 45 breeds.

 

The Welsh pony and cob judging attracts people from many countries.

 

Food, with an emphasis on Welsh produce, has also become a major part of the show, not forgetting forestry, horticultural, crafts and country sports interests.

 

Undoubtedly one of the key ingredients in the show’s success story has been the featured county structure, whereby each Welsh county takes it in turn to ‘host’ the event, while raising funds for improved showground facilities.

 

It started back in 1963 with Radnorshire. This year, Pembrokeshire is at the helm under the presidency of well-known Limousin and Dairy Shorthorn breeder, Seimon Thomas and his wife Eleanor.

 

With recently completed showground projects, including a £1 million-plus spend on updating the equine facilities and a new cost-saving water supply, the latest planned venture is an additional exhibition hall linked to up-to-date office facilities, as well as permanent dairy produce and carcase halls.

 

Without a doubt, the creation of the permanent site and its establishment as the agricultural and rural centre of Wales has been a massive achievement, with everything set fair for a positive future for the next 100 shows.

Show details

 

■ When: Monday, July 22 to Thursday, July 25
■ Where: The Royal Welsh Showground, Llanelwedd, Builth Wells, Powys. LD2 3SY where the A470 meets the A483
■ Time: Gates open 8am until late
■ Car parking: Free satellite shuttle bus service

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